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Brian Marsden (1937-2010)
MARK ARMSTRONG
ASTRONOMY NOW
Posted: 19 November 2010


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Brian Marsden’s passing is a very sad day for the whole of the astronomical community, professional and amateur. I first heard about Brian back in 1995 from Guy Hurst, a great friend and colleague of Brian, as soon as I started to become interested in trying to discover the first supernova from the UK. Brian was the Director of the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams in the USA, the official clearing house for all discoveries. Long before I came on the scene Brian was a legend amongst the ‘serious’ British amateur astronomers – the ‘Astronomer Group’ run by Guy Hurst had particularly close links with Brian, with the likes of Denis Buczynski, Nick James and Martin Mobberley benefiting from his advice and expertise in the field of discoveries, comets and minor planets. Brian had a particular fondness for the late, great George Alcock, whose fantastic record of visual comet and novae discoveries from our cloudy shores will surely never be surpassed; the two met on numerous occasions and they had a great respect for each other.

Guy used to feed me stories about Brian, with one of his favourites being that he regarded one discovery, whether it be a supernova, nova or comet, to be a possible fluke – you needed a second one to convince him you were ‘for real’. Well that was a challenge! In October 1996 I made the first supernova discovery from the UK and was invited to give a talk at the November BAA meeting. This was a nerve-racking thing for me, being my first ever talk. Then I was informed that Brian would be attending! A couple of days before the meeting I missed seeing a pretty faint suspect on one of my images that was later confirmed as a supernova! This was very frustrating for me but I thought I’d better have a slide or two for the meeting. As I was speaking about it I could see Brian sitting in the front row grinning from ear-to-ear- I knew what he was thinking – fluke!!

I met Brian at Astrofest and other BAA and Eastbourne society meetings and he was always so supportive of and interested in my work – I know Tom Boles and Ron Arbour, fellow discoverers, felt the same way too. He played a very important part in the UK supernova discovery story and helped amateurs in so many other ways. I feel very honoured to have known him and without his help and support my supernova patrol wouldn’t have been as successful or half the fun. He was a giant of a man and will be sorely missed.

The Planets
From tiny Mercury to distant Neptune and Pluto, The Planets profiles each of the Solar System's members in depth, featuring the latest imagery from space missions. The tallest mountains, the deepest canyons, the strongest winds, raging atmospheric storms, terrain studded with craters and vast worlds of ice are just some of the sights you'll see on this 100-page tour of the planets.
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Hubble Reborn
Hubble Reborn takes the reader on a journey through the Universe with spectacular full-colour pictures of galaxies, nebulae, planets and stars as seen through Hubble's eyes, along the way telling the dramatic story of the space telescope, including interviews with key scientists and astronauts.
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3D Universe
Witness the most awesome sights of the Universe as they were meant to be seen in this 100-page extravaganza of planets, galaxies and star-scapes, all in 3D!
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